Methane, nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions from an Australian piggery with short and long hydraulic retention-time effluent storage
In the Australian pork industry, manure is the main source of greenhouse gases (GHG). In conventional production systems, effluent from sheds is transferred into open anaerobic ponds where the effluent is typically stored for many months, with the potential of generating large quantities of GHG. The present study measured methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and ammonia (NH3) emissions from a conventional anaerobic effluent pond (control), a short hydraulic retention-time tank (short HRT, mitigation) and from the animal housing for a flushing piggery in south-eastern Queensland, over two 30-day trials during summer and winter. Emissions were compared to determine the potential for a short HRT to reduce emissions. Average CH4 emissions from the pond were 452 ± 37 g per animal unit (AU; 1 AU = 500 kg liveweight) per day, during the winter trial and 789 ± 29 g/AU.day during the summer trial. Average NH3 emissions were 73 ± 8 g/AU.day during the winter trial and 313 ± 18 g/AU.day during the summer trial. High emission factors during summer will be temperature driven and influenced by the residual volatile solids and nitrogen (N) deposited in the pond during winter. Average NH3 emissions from the piggery shed were 0.707 ± 0.050 g/AU.day and CH4 emissions were 0.344 ± 0.116 g/AU.day. The N2O concentrations from both the pond and shed were close to, or below, the detection limits. Total emissions from the short HRT during the winter and summer trials, respectively, were as follows: CH4 10.65 ± 0.616 mg/AU.day and 4108 ± 473 mg/AU.day; NH3-N 1.15 ± 0.07 mg/AU.day and 29.8 ± 2.57 mg/AU.day; N2O-N 0.001 ± 0.00052 mg/AU.day and 5.9 ± 0.321 mg/AU.day. On the basis of a conservative analysis of CH4 emissions relative to the inflow of volatile solids, and NH3 and N2O emissions as a fraction of the excreted N, GHG emissions were found to be 79% lower from the short-HRT system. This system provides a potential mitigation option to reduce GHG emissions from conventional pork production in Australia.